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American Prairie Reserve

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment

Mission: American Prairie Reserve's mission is to create and manage a prairie-based wildlife reserve that, when combined with public lands already devoted to wildlife, will protect a unique natural habitat, provide lasting economic benefits and improve public access to and enjoyment of the prairie landscape.

Results: The goal of American Prairie Reserve (APR) is to create the largest wildlife reserve in the lower forty-eight states, consisting of approximately 3.5 million acres of both private and public lands. APR intends to acquire and manage approximately 500,000 private acres, which will serve to glue together roughly three million acres of existing public land. Multi-jurisdictional management of the eventual wildlife complex will be conducted by the various entities with land ownership and wildlife management authority including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of State Lands, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and American Prairie Reserve. Conservation biologists have determined that a mixed-grass prairie would need to be approximately 5,000 square miles (roughly 3.2 million acres) in size in order to be a fully functioning ecosystem that supports the full complement of native prairie biodiversity and provides room to endure episodic localized natural phenomena like fire, disease and winter ice events. The Reserve currently spans more than 305,000 acres of deeded private land and leased public land. We believe that connecting people with the landscape in meaningful ways is central to our goal of instilling a deeper appreciation of the prairie and its wildlife in the general public. Visitors to the Reserve will discover a public campground and a variety of trails and interpretive experiences. In 2015, we opened the Enrico Education and Science Center to serve as a hub for students, scientists, and partners conducting fieldwork on the Reserve. American Prairie Reserve aims to restore a complete and fully functioning prairie ecosystem, the largest of its kind in North America. This is critical to secure long term conservation of the grasslands. We also aim to restore the natural, historic abundance of species in the region. To do such, we rely on our values and innovative and sound science. Our approach is rigorous, collaborative and inspiring. American Prairie Reserve’s (APR) approach to biodiversity restoration is built around the Freese Scale for Grassland Restoration. Developed by conservation biologist Dr. Curt Freese with Dr. Kyran Kunkel and Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf, the scale identifies the ten major ecological drivers for restoring and conserving biodiversity on temperate grasslands. This scale can be used by land managers trying to achieve a balance between agricultural production and biodiversity as well as those, like APR, which are solely focused on maximizing native prairie biodiversity. Each year, our biologists, along with input from partners and experts, rate all APR properties on the Freese Scale. The total score for a particular area is recorded and retained, allowing for annual comparisons. Armed with this information, we decide what approaches in management could lead to an improved score for a particular area of the Reserve.

Programs: Reserve area management and economic/educational programs

land acquisition - includes a portion of salaries and payment of professional fees dedicated to land acquisition to fulfill the organization's mission

bison program

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

I love the vision of American Prairie Reserve, and its new membership program makes me feel like I can truly be a part of building the biggest park in the Lower 48 — even at just $10 a year. I'm taking my family up there this summer and staying at Buffalo Camp... can't wait!


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 2

I think it is wise to tell others to do thorough homework regarding APR. If you are a Montanan with ties to the farming/ranching lifestyle or even someone from elsewhere who respects those who raise stock and grow food in Eastern Montana, be sure you know what the goal of APR is. Be sure you understand their methods to achieve their goals and how this will affect the lives of locals, many of whom are 4th or 5th generation farmers and ranchers on their land - land that APR wants.



Rating: 5

The American Prairie Foundation (aka American Prairie Reserve) is surely one of the most visionary conservation organizations ever. It is acquiring and restoring lands on the eastern Montana Great Plains with a goal of connecting to and adding to the Charles M Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, eventually creating a 3.5 million acre natural area, resembling what this region was like in the days of Lewis and Clark. APF is a well run organization. It has a strong list of supporters and scientific advisors. It has encouragement from the World Wildlife Fund and the National Geographic Society.